Category Archives: Gear

The Image Doctors #227

Photographing the Solar Eclipse

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you probably saw LOTS of photos of the North American solar eclipse. We have some thoughts on it, plus Rick got to try out the Nikon Zf mirrorless camera, and offers his thoughts on the retro-styled Nikon.

The Image Doctors #224

Hands-on with the OM-1 Mark II

This week, we both got the opportunity to get our hands on the brand new OM System OM-1 Mark II. While there are lots of early reviews out there from insiders, we had some specific features we really wanted to test, including:

  • Human Face/Eye detection (improved algorithm)
  • Subject detection autofocus with tracking and smaller AF-target areas
  • Continuous AF with tracking enabled when subject detection is off (C-AF+TR)
  • Slower frame rates in SH2 sequential shooting settings (12.5 and 16.7fps)

We then offer our take as to whether or not the OM System OM-1 MarkII should be in your bag.

The Image Doctors #218

OM System OM-1 Mark II announced with new lenses

This week, we take a look at the (big?) announcement of a new OM-1 camera and 150-600mm lens from OM Digital Solutions (aka Olympus).

The OM-1 MkII is a surprise considering the OM-1 was released less than two years ago, and we’ll take a look at the new features and give our thoughts on upgrading. The OM System 150-600mm lens appears to be a reworked version of the Sigma 150-600mm lens that’s available in Sony E mount and Leica L mount already. However, on a M 4/3 camera, you have the equivalent of a 300-1200mm super telephoto lens, making this lens an interesting choice for bird and wildlife photographers who want extreme reach for small subjects.

Until we can get our hands on the OM-1 MkII to properly review, we’ll limit our discussion to features we’ve seen reviewed online.

The Image Doctors #217

A smaller kit without changing systems?

Last week, we had a great discussion about moving to smaller format systems as a way of reducing the size and weight of your camera kit. But what if you want to stick with a full-frame (35mm) system and get lighter?

The good news is that many of today’s slower, or variable-aperture mirrorless system lenses are very, very good. In the past, you’d have sacrificed optical quality with slower lenses, and you’d have to stop them down significantly to get better sharpness and clarity. Today’s mirrorless system lenses, including lenses in the f/4.0 range from Canon, Nikon, and Sony are very good, and can be shot wide-open without concern. By moving from fast glass to slightly slower glass, you can downsize your system weight while still using a camera body that you know and love.

Pushing the envelope

Testing the Olympus 100-400mm with a teleconverter

The Olympus 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 lens is a surprisingly good performer, especially considering its sub-$1500 price point. It’s not a lens that I’d even consider using with a teleconverter, because you lose quite a bit of light in that scenario. Nevertheless, I figured I’d try it out when I was in San Diego last week leading my birds in flight photo workshop.

I put the Olympus MC-14 1.4x teleconverter on the 100-400mm and happened to encounter a song sparrow at relatively close range. So I gave it a shot. At these extreme magnifications, the lack of a good optical image stabilizer was noticeable (IBIS gives better results with this lens), but I kept the shutter speed high, and hoped for the best. I surprisingly got a couple of keepers, but autofocus accuracy was reduced somewhat (not unexpected).

song sparrow
Song sparrow at 1122mm effective, f/9.0 ISO 20,000 (click for full-size image).

In the past, I might have tossed these images out… ISOs 20,000? But by using DXO Pure Raw 3 to de-noise the raw files and a little Topaz Photo AI sharpening, the results were quite usable!